MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Wichita State’s lead had dwindled to five points when coach Gregg Marshall called a timeout to settle his squad and get key players back on the floor.
The result was a rejuvenated Wichita State that pulled away from Memphis in the 22nd-ranked Shockers’ 85-65 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night.
“I just said: ‘OK, that’s enough. Just relax and execute, and stop turning the ball over,'” Marshall said.
Once Wichita State got things back in order, it built a lead that eventually reached 27, a strong reversal from the first half when the Shockers struggled to make shots.
“We executed flawlessly down the stretch,” Marshall said. “We got layups. We were pounding the offensive glass. We were getting it in to our post players.”
Austin Reaves scored 22 points, and Landry Shamet added 20 points and five assists. Darral Willis Jr. finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Zach Brown scored 11 points for the Shockers (18-5, 8-3 American Athletic Conference), who were coming off an overtime loss at Temple on Saturday.
Brown also was instrumental in holding down Jeremiah Martin, Memphis’ leading scorer, who was held to 2 of 10 from the field while scoring 16 points to lead the Tigers (14-10, 5-6). Martin missed all five shots from outside the arc.
“(Martin) had five turnovers and 16 points, but, man, he really had to work for it,” Marshall said.
Kareem Brewton Jr. scored 12 points and Raynere Thornton had 11 points, missing only one of his six shots as Memphis lost its second straight and fourth of five.
“We were right in the thick of it,” Memphis coach Tubby Smith said. “We had our chances, our bench was outstanding.. … While we were with our bench we had good production.”
Wichita State, which was hovering around 33 percent shooting through much of the first half, shot 53.8 percent in the second half.
Memphis actually pulled within five points twice after halftime, only to have Shamet score to stem the rally. The second time, his field goal started a 17-3 run and the Shockers ran the lead to 19 points with about 5 minutes left and coasted home.
“The game was much closer, obviously, than the final score would indicate,” Marshall said. “I’m just glad we stood there, took the punch and responded well.”
Wichita State committed only eight turnovers, but several came at key points in the second half, allowing Memphis to pull closer. “The way they got back in the game was silly turnovers,” Marshall said. “We’ve got to stop turning the ball over by throwing it to the other team on live-ball turnovers.”
Reaves has scored at least 20 points in three straight games. Over that span, the sophomore guard has made 21 of 35 shots, including 15 of 27 from outside the arc. “He’s a good player,” Marshall said, adding: “We passed the ball well. … We were sharing it. The guards were sharing it back and forth.”
Wichita State: The Shockers, who dropped six spots in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll, may have improved their record, but their overall performance was still a bit rough early. They let Memphis hang around until the flurry at the midway portion of the second half when they scored easily at the rim. They outrebounded Memphis 39-28, including 14 offensive boards that led to 23 second-chance points.
Memphis: Earlier in the week, Smith hinted that the Tigers were “right on the cusp” of consideration for the NCAA Tournament. They showed they could stay with a nationally-ranked team for short stretches, but the more talented Shockers eventually had their way.
Wichita State: Entertains UConn on Saturday.
Memphis: Hosts Central Florida on Sunday.